Electric Palm Band Madness! Semi-Finals
Come cheer on Messenger as we continue to premiere our cover show to the Electric Palm patrons!
“Messenger's 'You Choose' RATING 80% Everything about You Choose, the fall of 2012 sophomore release from Arlington, Virginia based Messenger, screams of classic hard rock meets traditional heavy metal: An assertive joining of bludgeoning guitars, subterranean bass lines and tenacious drumming that allows for a surpassing heaviness but an element of accessibility at the same timeMessenger got off to a strong start in 2008 with its independently released full length debut I’m Talking To You, an album the Angelic Warlord review (80%) described as having a “throwback sound that hearkens back to the eighties” while also reflecting “a heavier and more muscular side to the decade” in trending towards “guitar driven hard rock (similar to Rez Band) and old school heavy metal (not unlike Saint)”.On You Choose, also released independently, Messenger - much to the benefit of us all - delivers more of the same. In other words, you will encounter no gimmicks and nothing fancy here but rather good old fashioned and in-your-face metal and hard rock that is also extremely well performed. Musicianship proves adeptly done and songwriting a step up in comparison to the debut, which was already quite good to begin with.Much of the You Choose material is up-tempo, including metal based tracks “The End Of Time” (with its penetrative guitar walls), “Christian Rocker” (heavy as it gets but with a touch of blues) and “Risen Christ” (highlighting a victorious metal anthem vibe). A decidedly hard rock direction is taken on “The Back Of My Mind” (delivering a blues heavy feel) and “Come Home” (standing out with its warm sense of melody).When You Choose trends towards mid-paced territory quality fails to diminish. Straightforward metal would be the best way to describe “Power” (aptly entitled cruncher with a punishing low end) and “Rulemaker” (classy piece highlighting variances in tempo) and hard rock “The Sacrifice” (another heavy set blues driven rocker). The lone attempt at a ballad, “Paradise” (bringing an airy feel mixed with hard rock guitars), is a good one.Helping set the Messenger material apart is its all out heaviness; the group pulls no punches in this capacity. But there is also no need for concern in that Messenger also displays a penchant for melody in which it sidesteps any form of repetition or heavy handedness. The upshot is that all the songs here have something to like about them.Vocalist Frank Clifton Herring proves the driving force behind the versatile Messenger sound. With a rich and warm style rooted in the mid-ranged, he fits right in with the bluesy hard rocking material but can also belt it out for the heavier metal based tracks. But his true strength resides in how he does not come across strained either way.Messenger also has a wonderful talent in lead guitarist Vlad Gurin. The best way to describe his playing would be the aggressive fury of Oz Fox (Stryper) mixed with the flair and style of Tony Palacios (Guardian) and Dee Harrington (Saint). His leads on “The End Of Time” and “Come Home” are ripping while “Paradise” reflects a more bluesy and exquisite side to his playing.Several constructive comments were included as part of my I’m Talking To You review. The most pointed revolved around packaging, which consisted of a 4 panel digi-pak without lyrics. You Choose, in contrast, is a 6 panel effort with lyrics included. Credit the band in this area.Also credit Messenger for production that rates a couple notches above the debut. No, I do not think I’m Talking To You sounded bad for an independent release, but You Choose takes things to the next level with its more polished and all around fuller feel.The other constructive comment involved I’m Talking To You including a couple filler tracks. This has been rectified as well in that all You Choose songs are solid. The lone complaint is that You Choose is also a bit short in coming in at just over 30 minutes. Now, I do not want to contradict myself in that I advised Messenger to go with its best material and they did exactly that. That being said, the songs here are somewhat short due to all being under four minutes.I hate to nitpik because quality ultimately prevails over quantity, but there is also a need to strike a perfect balance between the two. Hence, when it comes to both song and album length, I feel it is necessary that a band settle into what I refer to as the “Goldilocks zone”: Not too long in terms of overall playing time (if interested in an 80 minute progressive rock epic then raise your hand) but not too short either (a thirty minute album almost falls within the EP category)This is the lone area which disappoints in that perhaps Messenger could have extended several songs into the four or five minute range or turn “The Cave” into a full length instrumental (one of the my favorite I’m Talking To You songs is five minute sometimes-shred-sometimes-fusion instrumental “Special Delivery”). The upshot would be an album falling within the much more satisfying 35 to 40 minute length.The shortness to You Choose notwithstanding, there is more than enough pluses here to make it a must purchase: All songs are of high quality, production is top notch and band performance of a high level. If you enjoyed I’m Talking To You or classic hard rock and straight on metal in general then by all means give You Choose the chance it deserves.Track By Track“The Sacrifice” opens to a drum prior to gradually fading in. The song proceeds to slowly roll through its rugged verses on the way to an incisive chorus in which the more forthright heading is taken. Robust but melodic, “The Sacrifice” represents classic Messenger all the way. Lyric snippet:Slap my face, accuse me falselySentence me to dieCrown my head and whip me deadlyCan you tell me why?Stretch me out and nail me downA cross then did I earn?Be prepared I shall ariseAnd I will return“The End Of Time” hits hard and fast, taking an unequivocal up-tempo heading while reflecting the more metal feel in comparison to its predecessor. Chorus, with its abrupt but too the point feel, ranks with the albums finest. Credit Gurin, whose lead guitar stretch begins slow and bluesy only to abruptly take on a shredding turn at the end. Lyric snippet:Marking, counting thru the Mayan agesTo prove the day the planets will alignCrying Dying Sine will have its wagesChrist returns the day of God’s designThe End of Time - Can’t be told by oneThe End of Time - has to come to pass“Paradise” approaches semi-ballad territory with its ethereal feel and overriding melody. The song proves the albums most tranquil from how it plays up some stylish and gentler overtones along with a fitting stretch of bluesy lead guitar played with a great deal of feeling (sort of like something Rez Band would come up with). Lyric snippet:Shangri-La, Xanadu, Utopia, NirvanaMany seek and they find their search is all in vainHeaven-sent, Earthen-scarred; Jesus the MessiahWhen you seek Him you will find heaven is yours againCome to His throneWe come to Him aloneIt does not get much heavier than “Christian Rocker”. Powerful in tempo and form, the song grinds and punches to storms of slamming guitars in highlighting a piercing chorus and low-end reverberating as it gets (drummer Tim “TNT” proves his nickname is aptly deserved). Lyric snippet:He wants to be my friendHe wants to see me goI don’t think he knows What he’s supposed to knowHe wants me to say I’m vainHe’s just a talkerHe’s just judging me cuz’ I’m a Christian Rocker!“The Back Of My Mind” highlights an angst-laden mentality while mixing in aspects of blues hard rock. Guitars are fittingly heavy set in delivering the needed crunch, lending to what amounts quite the exacting scene. The lone complaint is that the “hey-hey-ho-ho” backing vocals are a bit overdone. Lyric snippet:Faith… lives in the back of my mind, but I don’t want to go thereI pray… when some time I can find, I know it’s not fair“I’m fine!”, “You’re fine!”At least that’s how I think it should be- they tell meI’m living a lie, and I don’t know what to doI don’t know why, but it’s hell I’m going throughMy problems are mine, I’m not one to whineI take the blameI know that I’m proud, I don’t’ say it loud, I feel the shameSpirited anthem “Come Home” smoothly flows its distance, exuding a warm upbeat energy with an abounding chorus and bustling low-end playing leading roles. Gurin again hits the nail on the head with his radiant guitar leads. Yes, melody for sure but every bit heavy as well. Lyric snippet:A wife looks out the window. A husband keeps checking his phoneShe told him that she forgives him. Will this fight leave him alone?The Lord Christ please with His fallen. The Maker cries out to all menTurn from your own way. He won’t be asking againWon’t you come home…Aptly entitled, “Power” starts in discordant fashion to pounding drums and snarling guitar feedback. At a moments notice, however, impetus kicks in to some driving riffs that impel the song through its weighty as it gets verses and lively chorus in which a victorious message is conveyed:And with a heart of love He dies for sinnersHe came down from above to make then winnersFor those who trust Him, He has powerTo help with sin, He has powerSo you and I can win with His powerClassic metal is the overall feeling at hand.“Rulemaker” brings its variances, starting its verses quietly to stilly done guitars only to gain resounding momentum as guitars take over to back what amounts quite the decisive chorus. In between we have bluesy guitar harmonies aligning with an emotionally done bridge and more metal laced guitar leads. Lyric snippet:Pharisees and Sadducees made rules that burden menChristian leaders do it still todayChrist had come to chastise some and show the love of GodThose leaders heard Him sayRule Maker - You love the role you playYou Faker - Ignoring your own sinSoul Breaker - You stand in heaven’s doorwayYou don’t’ enter and you won’t le me in“The Risen Christ” delivers the high energy goods. With an abundance of brazen riffs carrying things ahead, the song plays up an uplifting mentality of the worshipful variety (chorus is inspired as it gets) and eighties metal feel certain to draw you in on first listen. Some bluesy proclivities make their presence felt as well. Lyric snippet:They mocked Him, they smacked him, they pulled out His beardThey laughed at Him as He spoke the truth‘Crucify Him” they sneeredThey slashed His back, crowned His head with thornsThey nailed Him to the treeAnd though He dies, He was raised again like He said He would beHe is the Risen Christ, who carried ParadiseTo be with Him on high, Him who is glorifiedHe’s the Lord, He is God, Almighty JesusReview by Andrew RockwellTrack Listing: “The Sacrifice” (3:11), “The End Of Time” (3:40), “Paradise” (3:05), “Christian Rocker” (3:14), “The Back Of my Mind” (3:24), “Come Home” (3:04), “Power” (3:32), “Rulemaker” (3:22), “The Cave” (:45), “The Risen Christ” (3:10)MusiciansFrank Clifton Herring - Lead Vocals, Guitars & KeyboardsVlad Gurin - GuitarsRoy Richardson - BassTim “TNT” Tieff - Drums” - Andy Rockwell
“We have seen a lot of bands called MESSENGER in the past, so this Springfield, Virginia, USA based MESSENGER is not quite original when it comes down to picking a name for their band. However, their CD ‘You choose’ does sound very professional and is definitely of a very high level. In fact, this is TRUE METAL in the best Classic 80s US Metal direction, with a massive sound/production and some high class musicianship. The band’s singer FRANK CLIFTON HERRING (who also plays rhythm guitar and keys) has got a great voice and their lead guitarist VLAD GURIN shows he is a fantastic guitarplayer. 10 songs are included and despite an independent release, MESSENGER sounds like one of the latest sensations in the True Metal direction. The band combines True Metal with Progressive Metal and Melodic Metal here and there and especially during the epic “Paradise”, it sounds very impressive. Sure, there are some similarities to a MANOWAR, ARMORED SAINT, METAL CHURCH and such bands, but what MESSENGER is doing is of such a high level that any fan of this kind of Metal will instantly be shouting along to this band’s hymns like “Christian rocker”, “The sacrifice” and “Power”, as well as the terrific classic 80s tingled uptempo Melodic Heavy Rocker “Come home” (reminds one of FIFTH ANGEL, RIOT, KNIGHT FURY…). Be aware and check out this Christian Metalband MESSENGER a.s.a.p., because who knows they might become massive in the next few years. (Points: 8.2 out of 10) ” - Gabor Kleinbloesem
“Messenger's 'You Choose' Messenger hail from the East Coast, the nations capital specifically, and these boys have a strong understanding about how to rock! Messenger have crafted a sound that reminds me of early Sacred Warrior (musically not vocally) and Dio. This ten song album is full of hooks and well crafted songs. You Choose is the title and Messenger make no mistake about the choice before you.Opening with the rythymic drumming of Tim TNT Tieff, The Sacrifice comes charging out of the wall of sound with a catchy chorus. Yet I notice immediately that there is no guitar solo. The End of Time is a bit heavier and struts its stuff in a slightly up tempo fashion. Well arranged and with a stellar guitar solo, the chorus is anthemic but not cheesy at all.Songs such as The Back of My Mind, The Risen Christ and Christian Rocker kick it up much like End of Time, with powerful verses musically that hit like a hammer and break through when the chorus comes. This type of song writing is when Messenger is at their peak. Undoubtedly these tracks would go down a storm in a live setting.However not to be overlooked the slow and moody Paradise finds it place just fine. With its tight songwriting and straight to the point arranging, it highlights a stellar guitar solo from Vlad Gurin. This works and the whole package is offered in a rather melancholic atmosphere. The vocal work of Frank Herring is solid and the bass playing of Roy Richardson rounds out the bottom end. Power, Rulemaker are just a notch or two below the other songs, catchy none the less. The only song that left me completely flat is Come Home, which suffers from an overly simplistic chorus which is too repetitious. Lyrically, this album harkens back to the day of early Resurrection Band, Daniel Band or Jerusalem as they present the Gospel and tackle various church issues. The only track that left me flat lyrically was Christian Rocker, just the title should tell you enough. It falls in that ‘Rock for The Rock’ category.Clocking in at a smidget over 30 minutes long the whole thing is done before you get a chance to get comfortable. Yet that is one of the charms of this album, it hits hard and quick, closing with the aforementioned The Risen Christ, and it delivers the goods.This is an independent release but don’t think it is substandard, it’s not by any stretch. The production is quality, slight mastering issues aside but nothing that detracts at all. Messenger’s album You Choose is full tilt 80’s heavy metal in the vain of Dio or Sacred Warrior. The emphasis is on songs and strong melodies with powerful guitar. It’ll be interesting to see how Messenger grow from this release as they’ve been around for several years. You Choose has been more than a pleasant surprise it has become a driving companion.7 axes (out of ten)” - Keven Crothers